This is why. Because I'm at the damn grocery store after work, picking up milk and chicken, busting my ass to get home to my family. I'm waiting and reading a message on my phone from an OFM reader who is so filled with self loathing and has such a distorted self image that she uses the words "weird, sick, bad, and disgusting" to describe herself. I'm in the middle of that heartbreak when I see this on the magazine rack.
Why are these the "Best Bodies 2013?"
Because they're thin? Because they're air brushed to some crazy notion of perfection? Because we've all been drinking the Kool-aid of socially accepted beauty standards?
We produce this bullshit, let our beautiful children see it, buy into it, and then, wonder why we hate ourselves and one another. Quit this nonsense now. Quit reading this shit, watching reality television (which, like this crapfest magazine cover, is no one's reality), and loathing who you are right this very second.
How can we tolerate shit like this? It's just silly. Really, friends. A magazine with a cover spread of bodies that look nothing like our own, declaring those bodies to be THE BEST? I bet that shit gets gobbled up poolside all damn week. The women reading it will be covered, of course, a beach towel draped across their less than perfect bodies.
I started my own personal love fest when I took ownership of my body. I've been very public about my journey. Once I started encouraging others to love themselves just as they are, the flood gates opened and all of these women came forward. Women who are walking their paths, who can't look in the mirror or see themselves in photographs. Women who don't smile. Who plop a kid in front of them because they are ashamed of a fat stomach or saggy boobs. Women who should be strong, fierce, confident, cherished, radiant beings are beat down and defeated because we as a culture agree with the likes of Us Weekly.
Seriously- Us. Freaking. Weekly.
I'm not a part of that us. No mother effing way. Me and my people aren't a part of that us. We know better. These are the best bodies of 2013.
All of the women in the photo album I linked to love themselves just as they are. Us Weekly has 42 pages of hot bodies in this issue. Well, I'll see your 42 pages and raise you an entire flippin' nation of beautiful women!
My body is also one of the best bodies of 2013. You know why?
It's MY body. I love it. Just as it is. It isn't airbrushed. It isn't toned. It's mine. It's perfect. It's the best. Us Weekly can suck it.
For the record, Mister OFM would like it known that Us Weekly did not consult with him when they selected the Best Bodies of 2013.
So, y'all remember that one of the reasons my job at Tiki Tattoo Studio is so effing awesome is that I get to do OFM busy-ness when I'm there? It's not just tolerated either. It's encouraged. Well, I had just gotten the shirts up for sale when Mike Mills and his family came in for some work on Mike's hands. Mike is friends with my boss and had been in the shop before, but we were busy and I really didn't get a chance to visit with him.
Mike's a super muscular, super tattooed guy. You notice that he must be an athlete first and then, you notice the wheelchair. He was hit head on by a drunk driver when he was 16. Tore up his body something fierce. The guy's story is amazing, but the details aren't mine to share.
I got Mike set up with his artwork for his tattoo and he goes back. The kid who's making the OFM shirts is the shop apprentice and, every time someone purchases one, I say, "We sold another shirt, Drew!" We're just amazed at how quickly they're going. Of course, Mike asks about the shirts.
I say it's a long story and he says tell me.
For a second, I hesitate. I don't want to sound like a whiny bitch to this guy who has overcome injuries that changed his life to become a world class athlete. I mean, can you see how size issues might pale in comparison to what he's experienced in his life? How struggling with unhealthy choices might sound hollow when you're talking to someone who basically recrafted his entire body so he could conquer the world without the use of his legs?
Yeah, the Universe gave me another opportunity to STFU and learn.
I told him what happened. I didn't go into as many of the details as I would say if I were writing here. We talked about training and losing weight and loving yourself no matter what size you are and making choices that show that self love. Talk turned to the modifications Mike makes to train and it hit me that when I make modifications at the gym, I'm like Mike.
Epiphany time, but first, a confession.
Sometimes, when I do squats sans the weights in Body Pump, I feel ashamed. Sometimes, when I use the weighted sticks for leverage to do the lunges, I feel embarrassed. Sometimes, when I can only do 5 push ups when everyone else is doing 20 (and on their toes and moving around and holy crap), I feel like a failure.
As Mike described how he'll get on the floor at his gym and balance himself with one arm and do curls with a 75 pound barbell with the other, I realized that modifications should never be viewed as weakness or as a source of shame. Modifications are clear signs of strength and personal victory. Modifications are when you say, "I'm doing this one way or another, so let's go!"
But that's not even the gift this man gave me last night.
Before Mike left, he invited me to come train with him one day. See, he's training for this death race something or other and has to do some crazy stuff. He said, "We'll go into the woods and chop down a tree and cut it up and haul it out of there. Then, we'll flip a tractor tire for a while."
So, I'm just about to go into my usual routine of how I'm new to this and I dunno if I can do all that, but I STFU and told him I'd be honored because who wouldn't be honored, right?
Then, Mike blew my mind. He told me he weighed 310 pounds at one time. See, he'd gotten this office job and gained 140 pounds in one year and then, he gained another 50. Mike doesn't know my story. He doesn't know that I can totally relate to gaining that much weight and in that little amount of time. He only knows I've lost 53 pounds in the past five months. He has no way of knowing how close he hit home with that.
Mike was forced to make some decisions just like I was last October. So, he got on a mind-body-spirit quest and he owned his body and he works hard. He works hard every damn day. Looks like the world class athlete who is also paraplegic can totally understand size issues.
I spent a few hours with Mike and his wife and their adorable five month old baby who laughed and ate my face and slobbered on me like even he knew I craved the kind of soul charge only babies can bring. Mike high fived me before he left the shop. I can't thank him enough for giving me what I needed, precisely when I needed it as I continue on my journey.
Friends, seek strength and validation and guidance and you will find it. That's the moral of this longish story about meeting a really cool guy named Mike. You're welcome.
I stopped at Subway to pick up my lunch before work and ran into a woman I know casually and one of her friends whom we'll call "Mean Muggin' Woman." I'd like it noted, for the record, that I never once stopped smiling during this exchange.
Mean Muggin' Woman: Is your hair real?
Me: Yes, m'am.
MMW: It don't look real.
Me: And yet it is.
MMW: It's too bright.
Me: Thank you.
MMW: That wasn't no compliment.
Me: Then, you're doing it wrong.
MMW: Doing what wrong?
Me: The whole being a human thing.
And then, I continued to smile as I drove away, singing Beyonce at the top of my lungs and loving my too bright hair.
A wise man once told me that if I couldn't handle random people giving me shit about how I look, I should look like everybody else. Because I'm me and have no more fucks to give, but a shit ton of soul shine to share, I'mma keep rockin' it like I wanna.
Friends, no matter what color your hair is (or if it's even real), I want you to smile and shine on today. When your light invades the darkness of someone else's journey, they shrink away because they're scared. The light just naturally makes them flinch after so much darkness. It's okay. Let them flinch (or be rude or lash out or say weird shit), but don't let them dull your light. Blast those mofos with it because our job is to be who we are and to let our lights shine, shine, shine.
"Too bright..." that's the best thing anyone's said to me about me in four forevers. I think every single one of y'all are too bright, too. Peace, B.
Last night, when I got home from work, I ate the leftover pizza scraps my family left in the box, two Reese's peanut butter cups, two plates of redneck nachos, and a Little Debbie pecan pie. I ate it like it was gonna save me. I ate it like a junkie getting a fix. I went to sleep feeling like I wanted to die. Not just from all the junk I shoved into my body, but because I was allowing fear to hold me tight. I just didn't know that's what it was.
This morning, I woke up and was a total bitch to my mister and one of my Littles. I was unreasonable. I was mean. The fear was rolling off of me like a fog, covering my house, my family, my life.
When everyone left for school, I cried. I sat on the couch and snotted up for a good ten minutes. I had to get moving to take care of the details of my life, but I kept thinking on what was happening. I'm scared about a lot of things I can't really talk about yet and I tried to use old tricks to process them.
As I was headed down the road, the truth hit me. I was operating in fear. A good friend of mine once told me not to make fear based decisions. That was some pretty good advice. I was so consumed by fear that I reacted with strategies that aren't just unhealthy, they also no longer work for me.
How do you teach an old hooker new tricks?
This old hooker is already in the process of learning new tricks. I put on my jingly-jangly coin belt and hit Zumba. I danced like my life depended on it, because friends, it does. I danced like a woman who knows the truth and the truth is, I can't live in fear. I have to embrace it, examine it, and move forward.
Fear based decisions suck ass.
So, friends, whatever it is you're doing today, I wish you clarity and peace of mind. If you're processing something, take the time you need to do so without fear dictating your actions. YOU are the boss of you. Not fear.
YOU are a fierce, warrior, goddess, princess, super hero rock star who lives her life like a mofo. And so am I. Peace, B.
I've written about the coveted shower stall in the women's locker room at the gym. It's really the handicap stall, but it's like the Ritz Carlton of locker room showers because it's super big with a chair. The water just seems hotter and better-er there. The only thing that would make it better is if wine and cheese were served. I always make sure no one needs it and hustle out if someone is waiting because I know it's really there for folks who need the hand rails and not just old hookers like me who like the space.
Today, as I made my way back to the showers, a young woman stepped out in the hall from the bathroom area and was headed back to the showers. I could see the curtain in the handicap stall was pulled back and I thought I'd lost my chance. Another young woman who usually is exiting it just as I'm coming in was standing there in her towel and she gave me the sad look like, ""Awwww, you're gonna have to shower in the peasant stalls today, friend."
She gets how awesome the big stall is.
The woman who stepped out in front of me peeked in the big stall, but went right, to the other empty stalls, and said pleasantly to the room at large, "I love that one, but I don't like to use it if these others are empty. Just in case someone else needs it."
I'm not ashamed to say that I zipped right past her into that Shangri-La of showers and said, "Well, good because I'm a selfish whore." We all laughed, but I laughed loudest because I really am a selfish whore when it comes to that shower stall at the gym.
I learned a valuable lesson about time today.
I needed to sleep in this morning. I usually just wake up on my own before everyone else and get about the busy-ness of meditating and writing a little. I decided I'd try my best to let the alarm that wakes the rest of the house wake me as well. I woke up at 5:45. The alarm rings at six. I closed my eyes tight and thought how 15 more minutes would be awesome. In no time AT ALL, that alarm was just a buzz, buzz, buzzing.
Fast forward to after eight o'clock and I'm on the she-beast elliptical at the gym, James Bond is playing high stakes poker and three women are being so loud I can hear them over the movie AND my music. I usually do 30 minutes, but at 15, I was hurting pretty darn bad. I mean, super bad. I kept telling myself I was halfway there. I only had 15 more minutes. Hadn't 15 minutes just flown by this morning?
I learned that 15 minutes sleep and 15 minutes on the elliptical can't possibly be measured in the same way.
My knees screamed all the way through Body Pump. I just want to get to Zumba tomorrow. I can't wait to shake my shimmy while wearing that coin belt. The coin belt is the thing. I may go out to my car and get it just so I can shake a little today, too.
I'm wearing the completed t-shirt (and a scowl worthy of my little-Little) in this picture! My boss had to help me with the side panels because, if you'll remember, I was so frustrated with the project that I was going to set my house on fire. I plan to write a tutorial (sans the arson) at some point. I love, love, love this sassy shirt and am super proud of making it (almost) by myself from a three dollar clearance shirt.
And this brings me to being a big chick and wearing what I want.
I'm a big chick and I wanna wear my open toe cha-cha shoes. So guess what? I do. I'm a big chick and I wanna wear sassy denim capri jeggings. Oh, yeah, that's happening. I'm a big chick and I wanna go sleeveless. See all that awesome upper arm-age? That's all me doing all that and absolutely LOVING it.
No matter what size you are, wear what you want. Play around with colors and stripes and love your damn body because it's yours. You own it. Dress it how you want to dress it and tell all the haters to suck it.
Love yourself. Love your body. Peace, B.
Today's picture is a little blurry, but that's okay. I'm a little blurry, too. Kinda one of those days where you look back on how you behaved and think, "Um, my bad, did I do that?"
Mostly, I owe that apology to my family. I did indeed find the brand new bag of effing socks I purchased just for me. No one took them. They were right there in my dresser where I tucked them away. Also, even though the little-Little doesn't see the OFM page, I'd just like the world at large to know that I was a douchebagtoolheadgrownup to her because she was eating her yogurt with a fork. Eight year olds should be allowed to eat their yogurt with whatever utensil they choose. Sorry for being a douchebagtoolheadgrownup about that, sweet girl.
I did a round of stomach crunches, leg extensions, and squats before 45 minutes on the elliptical. I managed to not be grumpy to anyone I saw at the gym. People wanted to talk about the sad lady from yesterday who was so ugly in the name of her religion. A couple of them knew her personally and had nothing nice to say and that just made my heart break for her. Wrap that chick in love and light because she needs it. Remember that the folks who need your love the most, don't ask for it or "deserve" it or even want it.
I managed to not be grumpy to the local t-shirt people who didn't bother to email me to tell me they couldn't do my order. I didn't smart off when I went in to find that out and just had them tell me why they couldn't, not what changes I could make so they could. Whatever. Someone, somewhere will be honored to make these fabulous t-shirts. Unfortunately, this local business won't be a part of that spectacular enterprise.
When you need a do over, just give yourself one, friends. Bitch a minute, but then, quit it and get back to owning your day. Apologize when necessary, but move forward. Don't get stuck in a funk of anyone's making. Especially not your own. Peace, B.
Have I ever told y'all about why I park in the very farthest parking spot from the gym door? No? Well, listen right quick to this.
Because on my very first day at the gym (12.04.13), this happened:
"When I pulled up at Alcovy Wellness and Fitness, the parking lot was so packed, I had to go to the veeeeeeerrrrryyyyyyy back of the lot. I was facing the woods. I sat there with the engine running, thinking, 'Awwww, hell to the f#ck no. I'm not going inside.' I watched the parking lot in my rear view mirror and saw chicks in yoga pants and old ladies who could run circles around me going inside. My ass was glued to that seat. I went on auto pilot, telling myself to (one) turn off the car; (two) breathe; (three) wipe those tears away because this shit is happening one way of another; and (four) get.out.of.the.damn.car.NOW. I sent out a Facebook plea. My People responded. I could feel the love and support of my soul sisters around me. I had a firm grip on that steering wheel when I looked at my own hands and said out loud, 'I can do anything.'"
That parking spot is where I mastered my fear on the very first day and, every day after that, I got a little braver. When I pull up in the morning and slide into what feels like my very own parking spot, I am reminded of how far I've come in just a few short months. I am reminded of what a warrior I am. I park in that parking spot because I'm gonna keep on doing anything I set my mind, my body, and my spirit to doing. Peace, B.
Today could have been bad. Tons of those minor inconveniences piled up (forgetting shit, running late, yada yada yada), but I was too busy talking to friends about soul growth.
If you've been with me for a while on here, you'll remember ameaner OFM, one who was quick to anger and even quicker to attack someone with her words. That's not who I am anymore. My head is still trying to catch up with my spirit, but that's just not how I roll. Not to say I don't lose my temper, friends. I'm just not about the busy-ness of being a hateful bitch these days.
My old friends wanted to talk about that growth and positive change and it was goodness. Some of them wanted to know what changed and all I could say was I'm about the busy-ness of letting my soul shine these days.
I made it to Body Pump and my knees were screaming the whole time, but I didn't give up. I paused, I modified, I chanted "I can do anything!" but I never gave up. You know why? That's how I roll now. I don't give up and I'm determined to get stronger on this mind-body-spirit quest.
I started this part of my journey on December 4, 2012 at 335 pounds. I had to hit my inhaler often and I didn't think I'd ever see any muscles. My body was begging for some help. I stepped forward and rescued myself by making healthy choices. This morning, I weigh 282 pounds. I've traded 53 pounds for the ability to walk to my car without losing my breath, to play tennis with my Littles, to be able to roll around with my dogs, and to not use my inhaler anymore at all. At all! That's just 53 pounds. The more weight I trade in, the more muscles I build, the more I can do with this body I own, the more confident I become.
Y'all are gonna have to wear sunglasses pretty soon because my soul shine just keeps getting brighter.
Friends, remember that you get to make the choices that determine how you live your life. You're not following some path someone else carved out for you in the great big world. YOU choose where you go and how you experience the journey. Act like it. Embrace it. Own it.
And remember, friends, when faced with meanness, pettiness, and negativity, try to choose love and light. Just try. Do it for yourself. You're worth it.
One of my friends just sent me this side by side of me because I had criticized my double chin in a picture over on the Tiki Tattoo Studio Facebook page. (Why do we do that? My double chin is freaking adorable.) BUT when she called me on it, we explored how difficult it is to simply accept who we are and to also process changes in our own appearance. She stole these pics from here and my personal Facebook wall and...
This is me at Thanksgiving, 2012, right before I started going to the gym and this is me from earlier today. Now, I love that beautiful chick in November because she is beautiful no matter her size. She got me to get my ass on this mind-body-spirit quest. She had to use an inhaler and struggle up the steps to the hotel in New Orleans because she just wasn't strong enough to do it.
The difference is ah-may-zing! And seriously, not to be all full of myself, but I'm also more likely to be able to kick your ass with all my new muscles. Not that I'm so inclined. That's just FYI.
Thank you to my friend for making me see me as I am now and for helping me remember that double chins are what they are. I am mighty happy to be a part of this here tribe! Peace, B.